I took the boat from the house in Kamar down to Selenitica in the morning, just as I always do when I stay here. As I began to climb the hill to make my way to the castle and my makeshift office, I could smell wood burning. Quin! He’s here!!
When I reached the top of the hill on Arrival Island, I could see the smoke coming from the chimney of Quin’s retreat. Finally!!
Instead of turning right toward the castle, I headed left to cross the bridge to Garden Island and walked to the bridge to Quin’s Island. As I passed through the gardens, I heard a voice calling.
“Mr. Whitfield — good morning!”
“Hello Quin!” I shouted back.
He met me halfway along the bridge and we shook hands and exchanged further greetings and went inside where Quin had prepared coffee for the two of us. Apparently, he had expected me.
“I hope you won’t mind, Mr. Whitfield, if I get straight to business? It is rather urgent,” he said as we took seats in the observatory and looked out at the rock islands of Selenitica and beyond to the Sky Tree towering over the waters and swamps of Tao.
“Selenitica will return,” he said.
I admit, I almost did a double take…as we were sitting right there in Selenitica when he said it. Once in awhile even a veteran time traveller like myself can lose track of time and forget when he is and have to take a moment to get his bearings but this was not one of those times. So I didn’t do a double take. In fact, I didn’t even do a single take. I just sat there, blankly listening…as if nothing odd had been said…and hoped I would be able to decipher what he was talking about.
“While some questions remain and our efforts must be accelerated,” Quin went on, “there has been substantial progress.”
“Excellent,” I responded, figuring that was an appropriate response, substantial progress and all.
Quin went on to explain what he was referring to. In great detail. I know others complain he is usually rather light on the details, making it hard to figure out just what he is doing most of the time and why. But sometimes I’d like to change places with those people. It’s hard to get Quin to stay put for very long but when I have had the pleasure, he certainly has not been shy about giving me the details of whatever he is working on at the time. We seem to have a special bond, always have. So – when I can get Quin’s attention – I get more than my share of details.
But with Quin, the devil is in understanding the details.
A lot of it went right over my head. I’m just a simple explorer and time traveller, not a scientist nor a genius. But I listened closely, just the same. Anyway, Quin knew what he was talking about and that is all that really matters.
“…..So of course, you can clearly see our only option is to make some changes in this instance of Selenitica,” he concluded.
I nodded in agreement. I didn’t grasp what he meant but it didn’t really seem like there was a choice, so I just nodded. He kept talking and I kept nodding.
He kept referring to this instance of Selenitica and some other instance of it and — in what I hoped would be taken for the little joke that it was — the next time he referred to changes “in this instance of Selenitica,” I responded by saying, “For instance?”
Well, I thought it was funny. Not fall over and die funny, just lightly funny. Something to bring a little smile at approximately 7:30 in the morning while still on the first coffee. (Not to imply that I ever know what time it is here, just a guess.) But Quin took it as a straight question and went right on to answer it, “Well, the name for one,” he said.
“We certainly can’t have two Seleniticas at the same time, Mr. Whitfield!” he laughed as if I had made a joke. (I had but he was laughing at my second question rather than the first.)
“No,” I said, “we certainly can’t have that.”
“So you can see the problem?” he said.
Well no, not exactly. Actually I have no idea what we’re talking about. But I wasn’t going to say that.
“Yes,” I said. He smiled. I could see he was relieved.
I had to think fast to come up with something to say that would not only make sense to Quin but also help me find out what was going on here.
“What would you have me do?” I ventured.
“Oh, sir, it would not be appropriate for me to decide. It is really up to you.”
“But may I suggest?…”
“Oh, please do,” I interrupted, “feel free. I would be grateful for your advice on this matter.”
He smiled. “You might consider not only renaming Selenitica itself but this entire world, Evergreen, as a whole.” He paused. I nodded. “And use the new name for both.”
I nodded still again. It was becoming clearer now. If I have the gist of it, Quin has figured a way to “reconstitute” a previous incarnation of Selenitica…or some facsimile thereof, I think. Something truer to the original Selenitica – after which this one was named – or maybe it is the original…or a derivative…or…
Look, it doesn’t really matter whether I “get it” or not. There is going to be another place known as Selenitica and Quin apparently wants me to select a new name for this one. Okay, I can do that.
“I will begin thinking about a name today,” I said. He smiled. “How long are you here?” I asked.
“I must leave tomorrow,” he said
“Well, due to the urgent nature of this matter, I will have a new name for you by the end of the day,” I said, smiling and thinking our discussion had ended successfully.
But Quin’s smile was replaced by a more serious face. “Proper naming is quite important, Mr. Whitfield but the urgency in this case is in regard to something else,” he said.
“Oh.” This had the feeling of one of those “good news/bad news” conversations. Apparently, the name changing was the good news.
“There is the financial aspect, of course,” he said, trying to smile.
“Of course,” I said as I remembered the phrase from his telegram: ‘…SHOULD RESTRUCTURE OUR AGREEMENT RE AGES IN YOUR CARE…”
“In order to pursue my efforts to return Selenitica fully,” he went on, “I find myself, sadly, once again in need of funds. Substantial funds, I’m afraid.”
“And that is where I come in?” I asked.
“I do hate to ask for a…handout…especially when you have been so generous to The Trust all this time…” Quin said, “and so I will not ask.”
I looked at him, again blankly. I had no idea where he was going with this.
“Rather than asking you to sponsor these Ages, as you have been so kind to do for these past eighteen months….I was wondering…” he paused for the longest time,”…if you would like to…purchase them?”
“Yes.” He nodded.
Okay then, this wasn’t the bad news part. It was certainly from out of left field. Buy the Ages? Really? There’s a lot to consider there, for sure…but it’s not the bad news. Not by a long shot. Noooooo. The bad news part wouldn’t involve me at all, fortunately.
“What does Ms. Macchi think of this proposal?” I asked.
“I have not yet shared this with Miss Dot,” he answered quietly.
Yeah, I’ll bet. There’s your bad news right there, folks. And that is Quin’s problem.
Unless, of course, I see Dot first. Then it’ll be my problem. Or more correctly, it’ll be Quin’s problem that I will have to deal with.
Uh-uh. No way.
“Well, Quin, there is quite a bit to think about here,” I said as he nodded and sat quietly, waiting for me to continue, “but I will think on it – all of it – over the course of the day. And if you meet with me for supper tonight, I will have your answer ready by then.”
“Shouldn’t we discuss the financial aspect now?” he asked, a bit nervously.
“I don’t think that is necessary,” I said. “I’m sure we can work that out. My decision will not be based on that aspect but on the question of what is right for these Ages and whether I can fit that into my life at this time. That is what I must seriously consider.”
“Certainly sir, I understand. Six-thirty for supper? I shall make us a very nice stew.”
That evening over supper, I agreed to take ownership of the grouping of Ages that up to now was known as Evergreen — not ownership of the Ages themselves, I made this clear to Quin, for I would not be comfortable with that concept, but of the grouping, the collection. He understood and welcomed this approach.
I further agreed to rename the grouping and it’s prime region under one shared title. I submitted to Quin the name, Aquaetas.
When I said it aloud, Quin’s reaction was to look to his left and down for a moment as he thought it over. Then he nodded his head slightly as he stated, “From the Latin words for water and time…as in period of time or Age.” He smiled.
I had spent the day in my office in the castle and later at my house in Kamar, going through the small collection of reference books I have in each place. I wanted to find a name that I liked but that would have meaning for Quin as well, as his study-retreat will still be here – I insisted – even if he does not visit as often.
“I hoped you would like it,” I smiled as well. “I guess there must be some paperwork involved?” I said as I wanted to wrap up our evening and catch some sleep before timejumping back home in the morning.
“Nothing can be finalized until we speak with Miss Dot,” Quin said.
I looked at him with raised eyebrows. “I’ll be off to Winterfell in the morning,” I said.
He just nodded. I smiled. “Good luck with that,” I said.
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